By: G. David Sload, ABC President-CEO

Labor Day has passed, and school is in session, both in our community and at the ABC Keystone training facility. With the passing of Labor Day, we also mark the beginning of a new Apprenticeship school year, and several changes were made by the Apprenticeship Training & Trust Board over the summer months in order to raise the program to a new level. Two changes in particular were the move to full-time instructors and secondly to insure enough was budgeted to provide the materials and equipment needed to expand the hands-on experience.

The Keystone Chapter has started the 2019/2020 school year with high marks! For the first time, based on the records I could find, Keystone surpassed 400 apprentices in our program. As of this writing, we have 408 students enrolled, and we will continue to take registrations for our Heavy Equipment classes that start in January. Of those 408, 185 students are new to the program. Again, a new high-water mark!

While these numbers are great news, we still have a lot of work to do in order to fill the pipeline and replace the 40% of our industry who are projected to leave over the next 10 years. If you have not heard yet, Keystone offers Pre-Apprenticeship. We ran a pilot program with six students in the spring. This program put these high school seniors through 12 weeks of education, one day a week, learning our Core curriculum. This curriculum is germane to all trades. Therefore, these students can now enter the industry in any trade as an entry-level field employee, and enter our apprenticeship program, saving themselves and their employer the time and cost of the first semester. I am pleased to inform you that our fall class for pre-apprenticeship is sold out at 18 students.

As we continue to work on the pipeline, I want to remind you that with October comes our fall session of “Construction Wars.” On October 15, 16, and 17, we will host 200 middle school students and provide them an intro to hands-on experience in the trades. Will any of these students enter a career in construction? If we as an industry do not do our part to inform them, the answer will be “no.” This is our third year and our fourth session providing this program, and based on the quick responses of school districts to register students for this now filled-to-capacity event, I would contend we have become “the place” for construction careers awareness.

With so many things happening in apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship and our middle school program, you will see many communications and updates on social media and in various print media during the entire month of October. October is officially “Careers in Construction Month.” We at ABC Keystone will do our part to highlight this industry for the opportunities it provides and why we are so passionate about Careers in Construction. Join us in celebrating by viewing a class, volunteering for Construction Wars, or sending a note on what you are doing to promote the industry we all love.

For information on voluntering for Construction Wars, please visit

October 3, 2019